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Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Primary Colours

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Artist: Eddy Current Suppression Ring

Album: Primary Colours

Label: Goner

Review date: Aug. 26, 2008

Primary Colours is an appropriate title for Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s sophomore album. The Australian quartet works with the basics to produce a simple, hooky garage punk racket, yet delivers a surprisingly multi-layered mixture when everything is said and done. While the signposts are clear and the influences are more or less front and center, no one particular move results in absolute hero worship. Opening track “Memory Lane” for example, is built around a primal Stooges thump, but the guitar is worked into a nice trebly jangle that suggests such a walk can, in fact, be quite pleasant. The Stooges' primitivism pops up elsewhere: in the brooding explosiveness of “Colour Television,” which suggests “T.V. Eye,” but with that song’s libidinal throb suppressed by the ritual of endless channel surfing. “I Don’t Wanna Play No More,” with its single-note piano riff, deliberately (one would think) recalls “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” yet posits the S&M-lite referred to in the latter as all so much young lust that must come to an end.

The Stooges' hue certainly looms large (and what Australian band worth their salt doesn’t have the specter of the Iggy and the Ashetons hovering above?), but there are, of course, three primary colors. Thus, while ECSR paint with wide swaths and use a purposefully limited pallet, other distinctive shades emerge here as well. In general, the album contains a taut Wire-like sense of attitude and execution, and on “That’s Inside of Me,” perhaps the most unique track on the album, the band reimagines the Feelies’ “Crazy Rhythms” (a tight number if there ever was one) with just the song’s frenetic instrumental passage as a base. The effect is wonderfully unsettling and neatly captures Primary Colours’ theme of tension and release, or lack thereof.

Though the album never touches on the howling urgency of The Birthday Party or The Scientists and it’s not quite the revelation of The Saints’ Eternally Yours or X’s Aspirations, it’s very much a part of the proud tradition of Australian punk and underground rock. “Wrapped Up,” a crisp guitar-driven punk romance, and “We’ll Be Turned On,” which rides a swinging organ riff and bounces along like a cross between the Fall and the Modern Lovers, would both fit seamlessly onto last year’s two-disc comp Tales From the Australian Underground: Singles 1976 – 1989 (an essential pick up on it’s own, by the way).

Though there’s been a fair amount of diversity in the Aussie underground through the years, there’s also an unpretentious adherence to the primal essence of rock and roll. Eddy Current Suppression Ring make good on the promise and, like the many Down Under greats that came before, seize on the possibilities that can be gleaned from keeping things simple.

By Nate Knaebel

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